The day after Thanksgiving, our tradition is to cut our Christmas tree. Yesterday was no exception other than the fact that my younger daughter and her husband would be unable to share in the festivities due to Covid-19, the virus hell bent of ruining our family traditions. John and I would be tasked with cutting their tree.
The day started out beautiful, sunshine and temps in the upper 40’s. Perfect weather to cut a fresh tree, which coincidentally was what half the population of the state had decided to do and at the same tree farm we had chosen. As was the tradition, we would meet our daughters and their families out at the tree farm for a day of bonding over picking out and cutting our three trees. The men folk, John and I, damn you Eli, were well aware of the painstaking process that lay ahead of us as we marched back and forth, checking out at least a hundred trees before the women folk, Bailey and my wife, would settle on the very best tree ever! All that remained was to cut them down, at ground level, in the muddy ground. The first tree fought a little bit before John was able to saw through. Tree number two, Kathryn and Eli’s actually went quite well, but then came the tree Deb had chosen for our house. This should have been my warning of things to come. With two people pulling on the tree as I attempted to get my saw to cut without binding up, we eventually got it to succumb to my efforts, but not before we cracked a nice chunk out of the trunk. No problem I told Deb, the skirt will cover our damage.
After standing in line with the mobs that like us, felt yesterday was THEE day to cut a tree, we got our tree back to the loading barn, violently shook free of loose needles, bound up tighter than an Egyptian mummy, purchased and paid for with a small loan we took out at the bank ….. have you bought a Christmas tree recently? And it didn’t even come with lights and decorations! We were now ready to pull up the car to load up our tree for the ride home. Fifteen minutes later after waiting in the line of cars loading their trees, John and I managed to jam two of the trees into the back of my Jeep with the third tree tied to the back. As my grandson and I climbed into the car for the drive home, it became apparent that a seven foot tree in a six foot bed, would be sharing the space between us. Just one more minor inconvenience. This too will pass.
An hour later, after dropping the first tree at Bailey and John’s house, and the second tree at Kathryn and Eli’s place, Deb and I arrived home with our “best tree ever”. Into the house and into the stand, I wish! After three unsuccessful tries at centering the tree in the stand, we finally got the beast secured. Leveling and centering came next and thanks to my wife’s keen eyeballing abilities, we eventually reached perfection, some twenty minutes and several gymnastic maneuvers later. Next step, throw on the lights. starting at the top, and after too many times to count of circling the tree, (this step might be what inspired Brenda Lee to write “Rock Around the Christmas Tree”) we ran out of lights two feet from the bottom of the tree. This is where the math you’ll never use should have been used…… pi x diameter = circumference, average circumference x number of times around the tree = the number feet of lights you’ll need, which apparently was short by 100 more bulbs. But wait, we had an unused box of exactly 100 ‘white’ light bulbs. Saved….NOT! This is where one learns that there are many shades of white lights, none of which matched our already strung white lights.
One hour later, Deb has returned from Target with the light supplies needed to finish our assault on the Christmas tree. Would these be the right white? Close enough, the tree is strung and lit, Deb now begins the final Battle of the Tree, while I retire to the coach, content to watch my first Christmas movie. Things are going well, Deb has half the ornaments on the tree when, out of the corner of my eye, I simultaneously hear Deb scream and the tree cant drunkenly towards the front door. As the tree tilts further toward Deb, I snag the backside of the tree and haul it back up. Close call, but after some tinkering with the anchors and Deb sternly scolding the tree, we have it standing upright. All that leveling and centering is far less important now as Deb wants this battle over. Establishing that the tree now seems stable, we will settle for the leaning tower of Christmas and move on.
We settle in for a quiet night of sleep planning on dreaming of the beauty of the tree that awaits us tomorrow morning. 7:00 am comes quickly and we rise, vision of tree grandeur dancing in our heads. As we enter the living room, ready to turn on the Christmas lights, there lays our tree, yes, I said lays not stands our tree. Our tree lays draped like a drunken sailor across the chair it took out on its way to the floor. Christmas balls are strewn in a dizzying array across our living room floor.
I turn to my wife, anticipating either tears or a string of curses, but to my relief, she is laughing. As we survey the scene of the wreck, we decide we will not be defeated by this tree. We resurrect the tree, replace the stand, straighten the lights and start replacing the bulbs. In order to thwart any further escape attempts, we hog tie it securely to the stair rail and dare it to try to get loose from that.
In good news from the front, the tree is still standing. We have faced the enemy and he is ours. Maybe let’s get a smaller tree next year.